The Seattle Seahawks have a serious dilemma on their hands. The decision whether to trade star safety Earl Thomas or not looms over the organization like a raincloud. There are both pros and cons to losing Earl Thomas, but it is clear that the cons outweigh the pros.
The Seahawks have been in a precarious situation ever since the midway point of the 2017 season. The team suffered season-ending injuries to a number of key players in Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and top 2017 Seattle pick Malik McDowell before ending the year with a disappointing 9-7 record.
The Seahawks were very tight against the NFL’s salary cap and had to make some moves to clear up space. Defensive end Michael Bennett was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Jeremy Lane were released, and a number of key players departed in free agency, including defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, wide receiver Paul Richardson and tight end Jimmy Graham. While cap space was gained, players at key positions were lost, which created a lot of holes for the Seahawks to deal with.
At the end of the season, they had voids at offensive line, pass rush and tight end. Sherman’s subsequent release from the team only created another hole at cornerback. In addition, Seattle currently lacks a second- and third-round pick for the 2018 NFL Draft, which they gave away in the trades for Sheldon Richardson and offensive tackle Duane Brown. Many NFL analysts have suggested that the Seahawks should trade Thomas to regain draft picks and save money since Thomas wishes to be paid handsomely this offseason. While this sounds appealing, there are compelling reasons why Seattle should not give in unless they receive a sizable return in draft picks or standout players.
First of all, Earl Thomas is one of the best safeties in the NFL and is currently in the prime of his career. He is a six-time Pro Bowler, three-time First-team All-Pro, and two-time Second-team All-Pro. A player of that caliber is not easily replaced and it is not ideal to see him on another team. He has suffered injuries at a more consistent rate in recent years, but his play is still solid and not many safeties, if any, can replicate it.
There is also the matter of the current safety market; there are only a few elite ones in the NFL and none are currently free agents. Dealing Thomas will only create another hole for the team at safety. Finally, Thomas has stated that he wants to remain in Seattle and retire there.
Despite telling Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett to “come get me” at the end of Seattle’s Week 16 game against the team, Thomas later clarified in his post-game interview, saying that he wanted Dallas to acquire him when the Seahawks “kick me to the curb” and stated that he still wanted to be in Seattle.
There are positives to come from trading Earl Thomas, but the Seahawks are much more likely to be on the short end of the stick if such a trade is executed unless they receive a king’s ransom in return.